They’re tooting their horn at NJ Transit over the completion of final certifications and requirements for the latest class of trainees ready to become locomotive engineers. Gov. Phil Murphy even joined in on the announcement. The trainees, 14 in number, completed a 78-week course and lots of testing that culminated in a final exam of — wait for it — more than 800 questions. (We don’t know if the list included staple interrogatives well-known to commuters like “The train will be how late?” or “Did you say ‘canceled’?” or “Stuck in the tunnel?”)
With a chronic shortage of engineers contributing to difficulty keeping trains running on schedule, the transit agency has increased engineer training to record levels. The graduation of this latest 14 brings to 56 the number of new engineers it has added since 2018. The active roster of engineers is now at 357.
“Despite the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic, NJ TRANSIT continues to ensure that engineer training classes are being held to achieve a full roster of locomotive engineers for the future, accounting for anticipated retirements,” said NJ Transit president and CEO Kevin Corbett. “Increasing the number of locomotive engineers is an essential element to improving reliability on the rails for our customers.” The next locomotive engineer training class is set to graduate in September.